I've said many times, I could watch an entire MSU basketball game just by watching Tom Izzo on the sidelines. I think he's incredibly entertaining to watch-- his reactions, instructions, tantrums-- all of it. Saturday the nation got a PG-version of Izzo's sideline antics as CBS wired him for sound during the game versus Kansas. Most of the stuff was quick stuff-- no harsh criticisms of players and of course no swearing. Although, at one point we listened in on the conversation with the coaches and officials after one official hurt his foot and had to leave the game. An accidental "hurts like a sonofab*%ch" from the ref made air. Oops. Not surprisingly, no in-the-huddle rants made the air.
As for the Spartans, they have really started clicking when it matters most-- for the start of the Big Ten season. Yes, this year I think the most important thing they can do is win a Big 10 regular season title. I'd say their chance to win it all this year is very slim, but their chance to make a Final Four is 50-50. It's been 8 years since State captured the Big 10 and it's a goal that's long overdue and if you take care of the little things, the big things take care of themselves. (Although, most would say winning the Big 10 isn't exactly a "little thing").
Kalin Lucas is getting scary good and only a sophomore. I'm not sure what his leadership skills are, but if they're average he could go down as one of MSU's best point guards with Magic and Mateen. His court vision, scoring ability from the outside, ability to penetrate and outrageous assist to turnover ratio (5:1-- and for reference, UNC's Ty Lawson is at about 3:1) makes him easily the best point man in the league. When it comes tournament time you can look for the Spartans to make runs because of their guards. Good guards win in the tournament. Lucas, an improved Travis Walton and Chris Allen and Korie Lucious off the bench qualify as "good guards."
While I'm passing out praise, the job Tom Izzo and his staff have done with Goran Suton is nothing short of amazing. Coming out of high school, Suton had little going for him other than his size. He was a bulky, clumsy big man who cleaned up the glass for an Everett team that won a state title with it's quickness on the wings. When Izzo missed out on Al Horford (who I think closed the book on MSU long before) and signed Suton, I thought it was nothing more than a mercy signing of the hometown kid. Emerging from his redshirt season the results were already evident. He'd shed the chubbiness and become more lean and mean. He made plenty of mistakes as a freshman, but did enough rebounding and hustle work that was more than I ever expected in 4 years out of him. Since then, he's developed a deadly outside jumper, solid inside scoring skills and post moves and is a top-notch rebounder. He's a poor man's A.J. Granger and the metamorphosis has been mind-boggling.
Professional gamblers have nothing on college basketball coaches. When they go out and see these kids in high school and are able to see the progress they'll make down the road, pulling the trigger on a scholarship takes stones. Because one misfire can screw up recruiting for years. I don't know what Izzo saw in Suton in high school but it must have been a work ethic and desire to improve coupled with knowing what he could push this kid to become. And that's a very good basketball player.
Did anyone watch and listen to the MSU-Kansas broadcast on CBS? It was driving me crazy for most of the first half having to listen to Vern Lundquist say Ibok Idong. At the start of the second half he referenced his goof and promised to make amends in the second half. He then proceeded to call him Ibong Idok. If you don't know, the correct name is Idong Ibok. By the end of the game I wasn't sure what the hell his name was anymore. I thought it was also funny to see public address announcer Terry Braverman wearing a Big 10 sweater giving him the impression of impartiality to viewers outside of East Lansing. I don't think anyone bleeds brighter green then Terry except maybe for Duane Vernon and Sparty himself. Most of the people at the scoring table wear the Big 10 gear-- because I think they are from the Big 10 with no ties from either school playing. Terry is the P.A. announcer so he obviously is partial to the home team as he should be. He's not controlling the clock or anything. So, why not wear Spartan gear? Now, in the past I have caught "Spartan Bob" at the scorer's table in Big 10 gear, and any Michigan fan will tell you that's a little hinky.